Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
Hong Kong speaks out

More than 85 per cent of Nepalis living in Hong Kong are from indigenous Nepali communities. During a Himal Debate organised there by Everest weekly and, sponsored by the Magar Association, participants expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed 14 province model for federalism. Not only did they consider the ethnicity-based model, based on ethnicity, incomplete, they were also concerned it would invite conflict in the long run. Excerpts:

What do you think about the proposed 14 provinces?
Bhupendra Chemjong (president, Federation of Indigenous People):
The proposed 14 provinces are the solution. It was drafted after much homework on the part of the political parties and deliberated in the committee. It can address the concerns of all the communities. Demarcation was done on the basis of the availability of resources. There is no need for further discussion.

Kamal Poudel (intellectual):
We are sandwiched between two powerful countries. Therefore, it is not a good idea to have so many provinces in view of nationality and sovereignty. There are plenty of examples of how a small mistake during political transition can spark communal conflict and ultimately country's break up. The political
parties are trying to woo their voters and did not show seriousness while dealing with the ethnic issue. This might be counterproductive.

Nanda Changshu (secretary, Kirant Yakthung Chumlung): As long as provinces ensure the rights of marginalised and backward communities, it should be fine. Administrative expense is not an issue. Leaders are hoarding money and abusing their power but when it comes to creating provinces why should expenses become the issue?

Indra Laksham (secretary, Kirant National Religion Literature Upliftment Association):
The ethnic movement, as well as the creation of federal states, will not wreck existing social harmony. Instead, one caste, language and religion has been reigning over multiple ethnicities, which are now striving for their own identities. Interactions should consider the complexities of state restructuring and address them.

Bhakta Dura (advisor, Dura Society):
Ethnic provinces were demanded to address the problems of ethnic communities. The other communities need not fear it. All 59 scheduled ethnic communities should get autonomous provinces. The most important thing is how to bring the backward communities to the policy-making level and empower them. How can giving rights cause conflict? The oppressed have not got anything. Who brought up the issue of disintegration? The oppressed want change, not the oppressors. Those who have access to the state do not want change. The demand for ethnic provinces has been raised not to deprive anyone of their rights but to give equal rights to all.

Bhim Thapa Magar (former general secretary, Magar Association):
It is said political prerogatives will be in place for a certain time. Is the liberation of ethnic communities possible within the given time frame? This might please certain ethnic communities but it might invite conflict within ethnic communities. There is a conflict between ethnic and non-ethnic communities now and one day there will be conflict between ethnic sub-castes. What if ethnic sub-castes demand separate provinces? Do we suppress them? Federalism is ideally for devolution of power, meaning for development. But here it does not seem to be for development but for the self-serving purposes of certain castes. A majority of ethnic communities of the proposed provinces live outside the provinces. Nobody has ever said anything as to how they benefit from their provinces.

Rita Gurung (deputy secretary, Tamu Tyohyul):
I am supposed to line up for Tamuwan province. However, other community members should also be treated equally. Without this kind of humanitarianism, I don't want my own Tamuwan province.

Abichandra Ingnam (general secretary, Limbuwan National Liberation Front): If a community with majority population runs the province with representatives of all communities, there won't be conflict. Limbus favour co-existence. The country will prosper under a federal system.

How can we improve the draft?
Bhupendra Chemjong:
Those who do not get provinces of their own should be given sub-provinces within the region to uplift them. We have no grudges against the oppression of the past. We have to dispel the illusion that ethnic provinces disintegrate the country, they will integrate it instead.

Bhakta Dura: All ethnic and non-ethnic communities should be equally represented from the proposed provinces. This will pre-empt possible conflict. No one should be afraid of such provinces.

Bhim Thapa Magar: Tansen has been proposed as the capital of Magarat. People from Rukum will have to travel all the way there for administrative work. This is more impractical than in the past. How does it
benefit people? Magars are ranked as the third largest population but they are being cornered within a underdeveloped region with scarce resources. Provinces with industries, resources, transportation facilities, educational institutions and the infrastructure of tourism will be inhabited by clever people. Magars are being taken for a ride in the name of ethnic provinces. What is the point of a Magarat province that does not benefit Magars?

Durga Gurung (vice president, Association of Non-resident Nepalis):
I am from Pokhara, which is in Tamuwan province. Something like the price of potatoes could create conflict. Why will Gurungs supply potatoes to provinces they are not on good terms with? Tamus should understand this. The leaders who drew up the draft have not considered these facts.

Rajendra Thapa (enterpreneur):
The five development regions drawn from north to south during the Panchayat regime were not drawn haphazardly. Vertical demarcation can resolve the current debate on provinces. For instance, if we take Magarat and Tamuwan, rice can be cultivated in the plains of Lumbini while tourism can be developed in the mountains and universities and industries can be developed in the mid-hills.

Hem Limbu (chair, Federation of Nepalis): The proposed 14 provinces are based on ethnicity, region and languages. It would be better if we could reach a consensus. The major political parties are responsible for forging a consensus on creating provinces.

JN Gyawali (chair, Nepal Chamber of Commerce):
Creating provinces is not enough. The most important thing is if the provinces will get enough revenue to run these provinces. We have made a mistake by not considering this.

Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution

1. lal bahadur

I think the proposed 14 province federal model is right. however, the naming of the provinces should be based on rivers or mountains or on something of a historical and cultural value in that province. 14-15 provinces with a provincial headquarter is enough. all districts and VDCs should be omitted from the adminstrative map of nepal.

the federal state is such that anyone irrespective of his/her origin and ethnicity can lead any province. for e.g. a bahun chief in newa province is possible if he wins an election, or a newar federal head in limbuwan.

It should be structured in such a way that people living in Nepal should travel, work, do business, and own a property without any restrictions in all the provinces. This is an era of globalization, world without borders.

of course, a newar living in newa or a gurung in tamuwan has few priviliges over others in terms of employment etc . this doesnot mean a newar has the inherent right. anyone capable can compete in any province irrespective of his/her origin.

Thus, a proposed 14-15 province federal model is right if theres a little correction . All the Hong Kong interviewees who says no to federal structure is either a Chinese or Indian passport holders.

2. pradip
लौन  तपाई हरुले नै नेपाल आएर  सम्झाई    दिनु पर्यो !!!

3. Arthur
13 speakers are quoted. Only 4 expressed similar "dissatisfaction" to the article. (Kamal Poudel, Bhim Thapa Magar, Durga Gurung and Rajendra Thapa). Another 2 excerpts were unclear, but might perhaps have also been dissatisfied (or might not) - Rita Gurong, JN Gyawali.

A majority, 7, (all the rest) clearly expressed the opposite view to the article.

Nepali Times headline:

Hong Kong speaks out

...participants expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed 14 province model for federalism. Not only did they consider the ethnicity-based model, based on ethnicity, incomplete, they were also concerned it would invite conflict in the long run.

Read what the majority ACTUALLY SAID.

4. Bbuwan thapa

As long as bahuns get to rule Nepal and the nepalese all is good. Begging for aid to international community but if these suppressed indigenous people do get their rights in terms of federal states then its not good for Nepal because its not good for the bahuns.

Whether it be the Koirala or the famous thug Prachanda they are all the same thieves and beggers of a poor nation like Nepal

5. bhwan thapa
This comment has been removed by the moderator.

6. anuj
No doubt. Arthur, you are right !! I agree with you 100%.

7. anuj

I feel this article is very relevant with this statement, "एउटा चालकले दर्जनौं व्यक्ति सवार मोटर गाडीलाई जता र जसरी हाक्न चाहान्छ, त्यो गाडी त्यतै र त्यसरी नै गुड्दछ । त्यस्तै, एउटा पत्रकारले जुन नियतका साथ समाचार लेख्छ, पत्रिकामा छापिएपछि त्यसको प्रभाव या असर समाजमा कुनै न कुनै कोणबाट त्यस्तै पर्न सक्छ ।"


8. rishav
Nice to see what the community in Hong Kong think? They seem just as confused and divided on the issue as our own leaders. What was interesting about this article is the same reoccurring issues regarding this topic 1. No one can give a good enough sound argument for ethnic based division of the country 2. Even if they had this 14 based ethnic divisions the realization of what potentially could happen i.e. subdivisions, lack of resources to an area assigned to and most importantly potential ethnic cleansing.

Interesting what will happen. The politicians have already ignited a flame for petty political gain and now has developed the non comprising, non listening, bull headed stance by certain groups to get this topic. I believe proper civilian debate with potential consequences of what will happen if this division goes ahead and ultimately a referendum should decide the matter.

9. deewakar
why not go for the old baaise and chaubisee rajya model instead? seems like that will satisfy everyone.

10. Ajit Jung Gurung

I very much agree with arthur. the title clearly speaks something that isn't expressed in the excerpts.

In my opinion Nepal has had in the past so many ideas that would have worked very well for the country. take for instance the idea proposed by Late Harka gurung to divide the country into five development regions. it was a great idea that could have decentralised the power and could have brought about development in several parts of the country rather than being centrally in kathmandu.

the problem however with our country is poor administration and management and the word poor would only be an understatement. the idea proposed by Late Harka Gurung would have worked had their been better management and administration by the bureaucrary.

like other nepalese i too love my country and i would never want my country to be divided in several parts. we already have 14 zones and 75 districts that was designed for development in local level but that never really worked. the problem i suppose was because people never really knew what it had in it for them. i am from Kaski district and if kaski district develops then it is good for me but i never realise it. People in the west for instance US have so many states and usually people attach themselves to their states. difference in tax rates, educational system etc are characteristics of the state but we never had such things in our development regions or zones.

i think that nepal should go ahead with Federalism and even though many would argue with me we should go for federalism based on the ethnicity model that is the proposed 14 state models. when this is done most of the nepalese will realise that they have a place that truly belongs to them that they are responsible to develop and when this is done places other than kathmandu, Pokhara and Biratnagar will develop as new cities and true development in nepal will come

11. Slarti

Ajit ji, unfortunately I find your approach to the issue symptomatic of what is wrong with Nepal and much of its politics.

Your first point is correct. Failures were attributable to poor management and administration. But the administration and management was not so poor that no development occurred. It did, if you go back to Kaski, or if you are already there then open your eyes and look around Kaski, you will find that indeed there was development but not to the extent possible. Then try and think about what were the obstacles, once you have established that, tell us about it so we know better.

To simply pick up the fanciest political slogan in vogue and expect people to be cuckolded by it is not going to work.

You also suggest that the people of Kaski district never realised what was in it for them. Really!! Do you really think that people of Kaski are that pathetic? People realised what was in it for them, but those responsible at the local level did not know what their duty was, and people did not work towards creating an appropriate development environment. The fault lay somewhere else. You need to educate the rest of the world on what exactly was wrong in your view, and then tell us how an ethnic solution would work.

Taking the example of US may be counterproductive. In America, they are not as hot about ethnic division for administrative purposes or as a tool of governance. Some of their states are left behind in the development race (in relative terms). Try and work a bit to find out exactly why the US has a federal structure and calls itself United States.

My only request is don't jump to conclusions, not because you are too lazy and/or scared of the majority or a noisy minority. I only hope to learn more, because somehow, part of one of the major "victim" groups myself, I don't see much point to your argument.

12. Ajit Jung Gurung

Slarti ji

first of all neither i am too lazy nor scared of the majority nor a noisy minority. i am surprised that you dedicated all your paragraphs criticising my views and frankly speaking i am glad someone took time to analyse my views.

i will say that i am not a political analyst or someone who regularly follows the political news, interview etc. i am just a student trying to express my views.

i feel very sorry that you do not agree with the federalism based on the ethnicity model.  my point is that we have tried so many models of decentralism in the past and none worked because there was no acceptance and realisation of responsibility by people at the local level. this new model provides us with that opportuntiy. of course there is still that little doubt that things may go wrong, that inter ethnic conflict may arise but this is the risk that we must take if we want to develop our country.

one important thing i would like to mention is that Kaski is nothing pathetic that you assumed i mentioned, i did not. But it is nothing like Kathmandu city. No other part of the country is. Nepal is nowhere like or near Kathmandu. and that is why i believe that if Nepal is to develop it should differentiate itself from Kathmandu.

lastly i would like to leave Slarti ji with a question. does my mentioning of my full name and the topic that we are discussing about leaves you with so much of criticism or rather deeper thoughts? What if i had been a foreigner or a Nepali other than indigenous group, would you have still thought about it so much??

13. laluprasad

mr. azit,

if you read harka gurung's "geographic study of pokhara valley", you'd know how risky the valley of pokhara is for urban settlement. despite his warnings, pokhara has developed into a big city - thanks to nepal's urban planners and ministry of land reform & management.

as far as i remember, his proposal was to develop 5 development regions with kathmandu, surkhet, chitwan, dharan, and marsyangdi valley (thats where harka gurung is from) as regional headquarters. but that is all history now..

all we can do now is wait for the final draft of the constitution.

14. slarti

When a comment like the one that you have just made comes along, one often wonders where to begin. Thankfully, you said something about yourselves that was heartening. It is great to hear that someone is a student and is actually focused on the task at hand, i.e., studying. 


You do not need to feel sorry for me; I am the only person who thinks that the idea of federalism is rotten. The fact that my opinion is not going to make a hoot of a difference does not bother me at all.


I am also extremely surprised that you asked me those questions towards the end. I am not entirely sure which elements you found so offensive that you had to raise such despicable questions. I will answer them later.


We have not tried so many models; the model of decentralization that we did try was a success, the development in Kaski and elsewhere in the country is witness to the fact that at the idea was right. Something else went missing along the way. I am wondering if you would see any of these as possible reasons, I would urge you to add to them, you:


1.     Everybody became a politician

2.     Corruption

3.     Lack of time in getting the full results of the development work

4.     Lack of data in interpreting the results (Harka Gurung worked very hard in the field of stats I gather)

5.     Failure of individual managers – different villages ended up with different results, and some experiments were a major success. Really big.


Don't yet jump up and say bingo. Try and think about which bits were insurmountable. Check to see what you would have done, with your values, about these challenges. Check and see if there was something done about meeting these challenges. Try and figure out whether there was enough time given for all the plans to succeed or not in your area?


Do you know anything about gestation period, the rate of return on investment, efficient allocation of limited resources to gain maximum benefit?


All these challenges are serious, it is always possible for people to make errors in judgment, having the model that we had allowed for course correction, and it permitted intervention to manage adversity.


Now, I will urge you to think more about this and check where exactly would ethnicity help. Think about your suggestion (fear?) that there could be a risk of failure. You underestimate the magnitude of the risk and the consequences of failure.


You don't show interest in politics and interviews, neither did I. But when I did, I arrived at this conclusion - politicians would stoop to any level to safeguard their careers, simply because they are skilled at nothing else, and because talk is cheap.


Given that, you have my absolute assurance that ethnic conflict would rise if we go ahead with federalism. How, I ask, would you feel if some other community living in Kaski – where Gurung are a majority – raised the point that the failure was because of Gurungs? I assure you here is this whole community burden that you seriously don't want to carry.


Once this Pandora's Box is open, it won't shut.


Look back at the last 30 years (I know you may not be that old) and try and remember which part of development came through politics and rhetoric.


Then ask yourself, in all of this hue and cry about ethnic federalism and celebration of victimhood, who really gained?


I will bet your answer would be this – Not me!!


About your questions, a) No, anyone making a sincere comment and expressing their own point of view would be getting an equal response, I was not being aggressive and I have no idea why you appear to have taken that much offence about your identity, I am too proud of my own and I would not insult others, ever. I am only interested in asking people to really, sincerely, look past the rhetoric and the politics and then arrive at their personal decision. B) I would not give fhit about any foreigners opinion, for any Nepali (a) is my answer.

Finally, I assure you writing this does not take any time, I simply write my opinion.

Finally, why no more Kathmandu type cities I hear you ask. Well, that is for some other time when this issue is certain to come up again.

15. ajit jung gurung

Mr/Ms Slarti,

whoever you are i am really awestruck by the level of depth of intelligence and analysis that you possess. this was the first time that i ever decided to write because i felt it was a topic that concerned a lot of people and if i could add some opinion that could be useful, then it would be a good thing to do. but then someone like you speaking critically of me, i really am amazed.

i really think that you know a lot more than me. i think you are a person who somehow has seen and knows a lot of things regarding these issues and i would like to express my appreciation for the fact that you are continuing to express such good opinions in this Nepali times section.

finally through your comments i seem to have learned about a few more things and thanks for that. and sorry if i got carried over by my emotions and mentioned your comments as aggressive. thats natural for a person of my age.

once again

thank you

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)